Task Based Learning Vs Structured Learning

Searching for Treasure


On a recent drive to work, I had a conversation with my co-founders at DoctorC about the importance of learning in a startup or any organisation for that matter. All of us believed that one should constantly learn new things and that learning is an essential part of growth. Our conversation soon turned into debate on “what kind of learning is better ?”

The 2 arguments at hand were Task Based Learning Vs Structured Learning. Task Based Learning is the kind of learning you have on the job, doing the tasks you have at hand. Structured Learning is the kind of learning you have at University, or at sites like Udacity, Udemy etc.

As an software engineer, I’ve been task based learning for many years now. Given a task, I’d start searching for an answer and soon after I’m embark on a hunt for the solution. As a manager, I was not sure if this was the best form of learning.

As we debated on, we converged onto the kind of learning that each approached resulted in. With Task based learning, you learn everything you need to finish a task. Finish enough tasks, and you’d start to build depth. On the other hand, with Structured Learning, you’d learn how best to do something. You’d learn from a format built that was specifically engineered to learn from. Go through enough material and you start to build breadth across different topics.

As we reached our office, we had to leave the conversation incomplete. Still, my mind was pondering, one thought resonating in my head. “Task based Learning builds depth and Structured Learning builds breadth. Which one is better?”

Recently, I was thinking of an analogy. Imagine searching for treasure. You know what you are looking for and you have a few clues to start your search. This is how one starts a new task with Task Based Learning. Now, imagine someone gives you a map which shows you exactly where to start and how to move forward. This is what Structured Learning adds to the equation.

Earlier today, Karan, my co-founder, spoke to me about T-Shaped people. These people are shaped like a ‘T’ — they have a breadth of knowledge across many different areas and a depth of skills in a single area. This is exactly where our conversation was leading us. This was our map.

And I had found the answer to my question — “Neither form of learning is better than the other. Both are two sides of the same coin.”

Honestly, it would be amazing to build a team of T-Shaped People. It would also be amazingly hard to find such people… like searching for treasure. With Karan’s new insight this is what our map revealed —

Start by building a T-Shaped Team. Hire people with depth and/or breadth. Encourage and facilitate learning of all kind. And as you move forward you’ll move closer to the treasure — a team full of T-Shaped People.

Cheers,
Neehar

Learning is what makes work fun and we strive to make learning an important part of working of DoctorC. If you’d like to join us on our search for treasure, shoot me an email at neehar@doctorc.in